TARKWA REVISITED

Posted on June 6, 2009

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I have two blogger role models. You’ll read Chris Samuel’s post-ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT in the post below  and here Thomas Granofsky’s TARKWA. They are both young interns, part of the Canadian Lawyers Abroad program here in Ghana.

Ironically, I worked in Tarkwa for two years from 1971 to 1973 teaching English in a government secondary school. The ‘extractors’ were busy then, but this guy didn’t have a clue; and even if  I did, what could I have done? But today, there is the  internet and blogging  to create awareness.  Now, I believe every one has the moral obligation to yell from the rooftops when injustices are committed. Elie Wiesel says that’s what makes us human! (see New York Times columnist Bob Herbert’s May 29th editorial “Holding Onto Our Humanity”)

TARKWA

I went to my first trial this week in Tarkwa, in the middle west of the country (near Cote D’Ivoire). The lawyers from CEPIL are representing communities that have been affected by mining companies. Basically the general theme is: mining company comes in, bulldozes the community, ruins the environment, pays off the military and police, creates a handful of jobs, before leaving with 95% of the profit. Complaints by communities are largely ignored and lawsuits can languish for 10 years. As soon as we got there I understood why. The mining company did not show up. Not there, not coming, nothing. The judge didn’t care and simply pushed back the date. I got the chance to speak with some people from Dumasi village where a Canadian mining company Golden Star Resources Ltd is extracting gold. There have been 2 cyanide spills in the community (2004 and 2006), 3 people have died, many are sick, and the water supply and crops are contaminated. Golden Star hasn’t responded or acknowledged any of this and the case has been going for almost 5 years now. Pretty fucked up. Way to go Canada.

Ya, Pretty fucked up. Way to go Canada.

P.S. I am e-mailing our Canadian High Commissioner His Excellency Mr. Darren Schemmer in Accra to go to the Canadian Lawyers Abroad site-http://cla-ace.ca and, of course, my blog.

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